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Black cutworm

Black cutworm (Agrotis ipsilon) is a migratory pest that arrives in Iowa with spring storms each year. The primary concern in field crops is black cutworm larvae cutting corn plants and reducing stands. Due to the sporadic nature of this pest, preventative insecticide applications are not recommended and scouting should occur in every field every year to confirm black cutworm larvae are present. The Iowa Moth Trapping Network helps detect black cutworm moth flights into Iowa each year.

black cutworm larva; black cutworm larva next to cut corn plant
Left: black cutworm larva next to cut corn plant. Photo by W. M. Hantsbarger. Right: black cutworm larva. Photo by Adam Sisson.

An encyclopedia article details black cutworm identification, biology, plant injury, scouting, and management. This includes how to track growing degree days to estimate when larvae are large enough to cut corn plants.

Black cutworm encyclopedia article

Weekly reports for the Iowa Moth Trapping Network are posted on the Integrated Crop Management Blog page during April and May. Cutting date predictions and scouting alerts are posted on the Integrated Crop Management News page in May each year.

If you would like to receive timely alerts of black cutworm activity in Iowa via text messaging, sign up for the Iowa Pest Alert Network!